How-to Pick the Healthiest Breakfast Cereal
I love cereal. Always have, always will. There's something about the sweet crunch, varying textures, and it's combination with cold milk that makes it oh so delicious.
But, you'll rarely find cereal in my pantry because I usually go through a box in under a week! Granola on the other hand seems to stay around longer, so I keep a bag or two on hand for a crunchy topping on my yogurt.
That being said, I also refuse to fully restrict foods I love, so when I crave real cereal, I'll buy a box at the store - just not the Cinnamon Toast Crunch from my youth.
Here's what I look for when shopping:
1. Low Sugar. I like to keep sugar content it under 6-7 grams per serving. I also try to keep the sugar source as natural as possible. Look for coconut sugar, honey, and maple syrup on the ingredient list.
2. Lots of Fiber. This keeps you fuller longer, slows digestion, and helps prevent a blood sugar spike. I aim for 5+ grams per serving.
3. Protein Power. I like brands with 5+ grams per serving, but you can also ensure you have protein by adding nuts and seeds on top or having a hard boiled egg on the side. Like fiber, protein helps keep you full and prevents those dreaded blood sugar spikes.
3. Quality and quantity of ingredients. Look for organic, non-GMO, and soy-free brands.
The first ingredient listed should always be a type of whole grain (brown rice, sorghum, oats, corn, etc). I opt for gluten-free cereals, but that's a personal preference.
You also want to be able to read, pronounce, and understand where each ingredient came from (i.e. sprouted sorghum flour, sea salt, coconut sugar, chia seeds, coconut flakes, etc). The fewer ingredients listed and the closer they are to their natural state, the better.
Lastly, don't be fooled by "whole grain" claims on the front of the box. Be sure to read those labels!
here's how I make sure to savor My Morning Bowl and not eat the whole box in one day!
1. Measure. Cereal serving sizes are pretty small. I guarantee if you just pour cereal into your bowl the amount will be double what's on the nutrition label - which is why I always measure out a serving before adding it to my bowl. For granola, I use a shot glass to measure and view it more as a crunchy topping than the main event.
2. Make it part of a meal. I rarely have cereal or granola as a snack. Instead, I eat it for breakfast and make it a well rounded meal - adding fruit for extra fiber and nutrients as well as a protein / fat source like nut butter or a hard boiled egg on the side.
3. No distractions. I tell my clients to practice the no distractions rule at every meal, but it's especially important when you're having something you'd consider a treat. Sit. Be quiet. And savor every bite. You'll enjoy what you're eating and be satisfied. Which means for me, that cereal box will last much longer.